Posts Tagged ‘Holocaust

10
Jan
14

encouragement

I am working on a project that is very important to me…though sometimes I despair at my seeming lack of progress. Every time I have felt a little lost, uncertain of my purpose or without hope, the Universe has given me a sign. It’s just a small thing, but enough of an encouragement that says ‘go on, there are things to uncover still’.

Today, even while enduring a migraine, I picked up the laptop to check a few sites that always lift my spirits. But this day was different. Not only are my spirits lifted, but I stumbled upon another story that goes directly to the heart of the project I am working on. There is no mistaking the dual message: first, my quest is supported, and second, my hypothesis is correct.

I am no different, no more or less deserving than any other person on the planet. But I have learned that when we follow our hearts, when we allow ourselves to be known and our intention to be expressed, we are supported. If you need a little encouragement today, open your heart…express your intent…and follow the signs.

There’ll be much more to come about the project in this space, but for now, follow the link and enjoy. Life is beautiful. I am grateful. Thank you, Alice Herz Sommer.

http://theladyinnumber6.com

Alice Herz Sommer, mother, daughter, pianist, 110 and loving the beauty that is Life.

Alice Herz Sommer, mother, daughter, pianist, 110 and loving the beauty that is Life. 

15
Oct
10

“…the man who has seen Prague might tell us something.” Dr. Johnson

What can I tell you about Prague?  My strongest impression: Prague is a powerful juxtaposition of new and old. After elbowing through a crowd of tourists navigating narrow lanes, you can discover restaurants in ancient vaulted spaces proclaiming “Slow Food Prague Approved”. You can see the Old Jewish Cemetery (with 12,000 tombstones succumbing to gravity and erosion) or new works by inspiring artists in galleries on every block. You can watch a new beginning take place on the steps of a centuries old castle……or turn the corner and have a meal and a beer at the oldest medieval pub in Prague while you put up your latest blog post (they have wifi). Tour St. Vitus’ Cathedral and discover a distinctly Czech color palette and style in new stained glass that coexists with an artisan’s window from the 14th century.

Though I have seen Prague, I feel like there is so much more to see.  It is, in this way, very much like London, Paris, Florence, or Rome…..it is nearly unknowable.  The pace of the change feels like it could be faster than the cities I’ve mentioned. Prague has long been a center of learning and expression in art, literature, science and music….but the desire to “catch up” since the fall of the Iron Curtain is manifested in the street scene and in the vibrancy of a very young population.

I think that it will soon be very difficult to find vestiges of mid-20th century Prague. Sophisticated architecture, fashion, cuisine, and a heavily centered tourist economy will erase what is left from this time. But the best parts will certainly remain.  See Prague and you will see the height of Baroque (and earlier) European culture displayed in the churches, in the music, and the glorious decorated architecture. See Prague and you will see a populace alive with possibility while preserving its storied intellectual and social awareness. See Prague and you will see heart-rending evidence of loss and the annihilation of a population that gave so much to the life blood of a great city.

See Prague.

13
Oct
10

the journey continues: Terezin

A caveat: I am not a scholar….I am not a philosopher…..I hesitate to write about this subject as so many have come before me and written profoundly and with tremendous compassion and knowledge.  I offer my thoughts as a simple commentary from a caring human that happens to use a camera to add to the dialogue.

Terezin (or Theriesenstadt as it is more widely known) was a jolt. Having a cup of tea in what turned out to be one of the workshops for the inhabitants of the ghetto was simply surreal. The waiter, the furniture, the strange green gray paint on the wall, cobwebbed windows and the slightly dirty table cloth created an atmosphere of such oppression. It felt like all life had been drained from this town and in its place was poured inertia and darkness.  I was unprepared for the fact that people LIVE in this town. I kept looking around for the “site” and then realized I was standing IN the site. This helped to explain the feeling that I was walking in a gray airless space.

After walking the perimeter I left the town and went to the Small Fortress.  The town of Terezin was built originally as a fortified garrison town.  To the north lies the small fortress…what became a center of torture and death for Czech political prisoners and resistance figures, locals accused of aiding prisoners, and people from Terezin who had defied some rule or conspired in some way to make life a little better.  Again, the juxtaposition of horror (the cells of the fortress) existing within 30 feet of lovely homes and lawns (the lodging for the commandant and adjutants) filled me with revulsion and anger.

I walked through the fortress…..learned that it is a place of deep sadness for Czechs as so many of their heroes died here…..and learned about the citizens who risked their lives and often lost them to help a prisoner. Smuggling a letter or trying to get a bit of food for a prisoner was punishable by death, after having been tortured. The Small Fortress at Terezin is a blessedly silent monument to martyrdom, to true heroism, and to the values that compelled citizens to try to help, even in the smallest ways.

I went back to the town to visit the Ghetto Museum.  This is a large building that borders a small park, with big leafy trees that line the sidewalk. It is housed in what was a boy’s dormitory.  More than 10,500 children passed through Terezin from 1940 to 1945.  Less than 300 survived. Walking the halls of the museum and looking at all the children’s drawings ~ of holidays, of seasons, of family and of home ~ was heartbreaking. And then beneath the incredibly precious works of art the artist’s name, birth date, and date and place of his or her death is inscribed. What can anyone say when faced with this much loss? Humanity’s loss? Photographs were forbidden and I certainly didn’t want to disrespect the memory of the children and their heart’s work…..but I did make a photo of a small part of a wall….just one of many….that was inscribed with the youngest victim’s names. I made it in a way that I hope invokes the feeling of their departure, but also their journey to a better place…..surrounding us all in the air we breath and the molecules that pass through us in each moment. They are us and we are them.




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